Education Full Text
Title: Reframing Leadership to Create Change
Personal Author: Israel, Marla Susman; Kasper, Beverly Bell
Peer Reviewed Journal: Y
Journal Name: The Educational Forum
Source: The Educational Forum v. 69 no. 1 (Fall 2004) p. 16-26
Publication Year: 2004
Physical Description: Bibliography; Illustration
ISSN: 0013-1725
Language of Document: English
Abstract: This manuscript describes how two school administrators, now educational leadership professors, successfully reframed leadership to create change. Bolman and Deal's (1984; 2003) reframing of pedagogy provided the theory for understanding this complex change process and the chool administrator's role. As a conceptual framework, reframing theory provides a research design for examining educational leadership. By applying theory to practice, school leaders can refine their craft, understand their schools, and enhance their role as change agents. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Subject(s): School administrators/Powers and duties; Change agents; Leadership in education; Administration of schools/Theories and principles
Document Type: Feature
Abstract Indicator: Y
Full Text Indicator: Y; P
Update Code: 20041022
Date Entered: 20041022
Date Indexed: 20041022
Database: Education
Accession Number: 200429703464002
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TITLE: Reframing Leadership to Create Change
SOURCE: The Educational Forum 69 no1 16-26 Fall 2004

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Marla Susman Israel and Beverly Bell Kasper

This manuscript describes how two school administrators, now educational leadership professors, successfully reframed leadership to create change. Bolman and Deal's (1984; 2003) reframing of pedagogy provided the theory for understanding this complex change process and the school administrator's role. As a conceptua framework, reframing theory provides a research design for examining educational leadership. By applying theory to practice, school leaders can refine their craft, understand their schools, and enhance their role as change agents.
Why study organizational theory? Isn't it enough to think and act? Isn't each situation unique and, therefore, no one theory is applicable to the realities and complexities of organizational life? In this article, Bolman and Deal's (1984; 2003) reframing theory is applied to real practice. Reframing theory provides school leaders with a systematic, expanded viewpoint for understanding organizational life. Bolman and Deal (1984, 3) stated that structural theorists emphasize organizational goals, roles, and technology; human resource theorists emphasize the interdependence between people and organizations; political theorists see power, conflict, and the distribution of scarce resources as the central issue; and symbolic theorists focus on problems of meaning in organizatio s. The process of reframing using the four frames--structural, human resources, political, and symbolic--provides the theoretical pedagogy to create consensus on purpose and practice during the change process. As a conceptual framework, reframing theory provides a solid research design for examining positive leadership practices in schools. By applying theory to practice, school leaders can refine their craft, understand their schools, and enhance their role as change agents.
Change is a beginning, which, in turn, means that what was happening before must now come to an end. While this is the desired outcome of change, unless the leader gives recognition and validation to past practices, the individuals involved will have difficulty developing the will and capacity for change. Bridges (1991, 3) spoke of this process as "recognizing the transition or psychological process that people go through to come to terms with a new situation." He further postulated that without transition, change is not possib e. He said (1991, 4), "There can be any number of changes, but unless there are transitions, nothing will be different when the dust clears." Bolman and Deal (2003, 370) spoke to this issue when they discussed the leader's need to understand that change "intrudes upon deeply rooted symbolic forms, traditional ways, and ritual behavior." They (2003) suggested that to accomplish organizational change, the leader must be cognizant of the barriers to change. Continual refinement and reflection by the school leader as the change agent demystifies the reframing process. The result is increased success as leaders move schools through the transformation process.
The process of reframing--the switching of administrative perspectives during the change process to uniquely observe and capture the moment--that enable the authors to preserve morale and build will and capacity while creating and sustaining learning communities, is detailed in this article. Positive portrayals of the often complex reframing process provide current and future leaders with concrete examples of artistry and skill when using reframing to chart a course for meaningful school reform.
The scenarios described came from the worlds of early childhood and middle school education. The first scenario involved the need for diverse groups to embrace and create early learning standards for school and community-based early childhood programs. The second scenario involved the need for middle school staff members to embrace new leadership and become a true middle school learning community. In both case studies, the reframing practices and the rationales each school leader used to choose the appropriate frame to gain clarity, generate new options, and find strategies to move each group forward are examined.

The convened group was diverse. Head Start, state-funded preschool, childcare providers, businesses, and the local school district were represented. Stakeho ders were teachers, administrators, parents, and laypersons. They came together partially out of fear--fear that funding for their project might be in jeopardy, that their programs would be found wanting, or that their programs would have to undergo fundamental change. Yet, despite the fear, the diverse stakeholders gathered with a common commitment: to ensure that every child within the community would be ready to succeed upon entering kindergarten. The early childhood principal would have the job of uniting this group, not by their fears, but rather by their common goal. They were driven by their beliefs, knowledge, and desires to provide high-quality early learning environments (Danielson 2002).
In the 1990s, the demand for accountability within schools--even within early childhood programs--was growing at the federal, state, and local levels (Bredekamp and Rosegrant 1995; Bowman, Donovan, and Burns 2001; Hatch 2002; Hyun 2003; National Education Goals Panel 1999; National Research Council 2000; ational Association of State Boards of Education 1988; U.S. Department of Education 2002). The standards movement also had taken hold within K-12 and higher education (Danielson 2002; U.S. Department of Education 2002; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards 2001; Wiggins and McTighe 1998). Not surprising, therefore, was that the standards movement was beginning within early childhood education (Illinois State Board of Education 2002; Head Start Bureau 2001). This standards movement, coupled with accountability demands, meant that early childhood educators needed to articulate the goals of a quality early education program (National Association for the Education of Young Children 2001; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and National Association for the Education of Young Children 2002; Neuman, Copple, and Bredekamp 2002).
The school district's early childhood principal convened the group to embark upon a three-year process that would create early learning standards and accountabi ity measures to satisfy federal and state mandates, and that were acceptable to a diverse learning community. The early childhood principal used the process of reframing, with artistry and choice, to purposefully build will and capacity within and across multiple local organizations to create consensus and change.
The early childhood principal chose to frame her leadership style using a structural approach, as recommended by Bolman and Deal (2003, 306); this style is useful when a leader needs to "create strategies to set objectives and coordinate resources." The school district was responsible not only for its own early childhood programming, the largest in the community, but also was the financial agent for four community preschools that provided state-funded preschool programs. Clearly defined accountability measures were mandatory to qualify for state funding and funding drove the stakeholders to cooperate. For the first six months, the leader and the group researched and reviewed the state-fund d preschool mandates. The leader, as structural architect, provided the blueprint for minimum compliance requirements and documents that needed to be completed during the first fiscal cycle to ensure funding for the year. Using a structural, top-down method, the principal stated, "We have no choice or we will lose this funding." Bolman and Deal (2003, 307) stated that when the leader must "keep the organization headed in the right direction while transmitting facts and information," a structural top-down leadership style is most appropriate.
This stance resulted in two outcomes. First, it created immediate awareness of the situation by all involved. A sense of urgency was established. Second, and more importantly, it mobilized diverse personnel from multiple organizations to recognize that while a top-down directive for immediate monies was a sufficient process for the short-run, this type of decision-making could not continue indefinitely. A collaborative structure was necessary to comply with futu e mandates and the subsequent implementation of meaningful programs for children (Firestone 1989).
Capitalizing on the passion of the group and its sense of accomplishment when the initial compliance measures were met, the leader challenged the group to begin the process of real change and consensus building (Fullan 2001). She reframed the challenge by applying a human resources focus on the change process and on her leadership style.
She knew that the group no longer needed an architect. Rather, the situation now demanded that the leader become the parent of a large blended family and recognize the expertise and perspective that each stakeholder brought to the table (Bolman and Deal 2003; Fullan 2001; Green 2001). She needed to facilitate conversations that allowed participants to express their legitimate fears and apprehensions about the required accountability measures and early learning standards to be created. For these long conversations, time and food were major prerequisites. A leade cannot underestimate the power of breaking bread together among various stakeholders (Bolman and Deal 2003). Real time was built into the process. Unlike the leader as architect who had an abbreviated timeline, the leader as parent provided ample time, without competing distractions, for real conversation to occur. Firestone (1989) called this reflection time a necessary function.
By reframing the context and her leadership style, the leader lessened the complexity, surprise, deception,and ambiguity of the group's work (Bolman and Deal 2003). She also needed to ensure that all stakeholders were represented, and expand the group if necessary, to allow for all-inclusive and significant community conversations. Though this was time-consuming, the expansion of the group ensured that necessary functions, linkages, and personnel mobilization between public and private sectors and preschool and kindergarten programs were established.
Once the family members were acknowledged and accounted for, the principal used a backward-design model (Wiggins and Mctighe 1998), which begins with the end product to determine a curriculum plan. This question was posed: "What skills does an entering kindergarten child need to be successful in our community's kindergarten program?" This basic question generated a yearlong, heated debate. The clarity of the question and the family environment that had been established and nurtured provided the will and capacity among the stakeholders to create and reach consensus on a set of desired skills for children entering kindergarten.
Eighteen months later, a community-wide kindergarten readiness report card that outlined the agreed-upon, desired skills for a child entering kindergarten was produced. This report card, which was designed for use by teachers and parents, delineated individual progress within each of these skill areas and provided an early learning assessment checklist to determine the child's progress toward these kindergarten readiness skills. In 18 months a well-functioning family of stakeholders, who had built trust and a common vocabulary to discuss the important issues surrounding early learning accountability and standards, had been formed.
But as with any family, disagreements occurred. Competing mandates and language needed to be finessed on the first two documents that were created to accommodate interests of multiple funding agents. As a result, the principal often needed to switch frames between being the leader as parent and the leader as politician. As Bolman and Deal (2003, 16) stated, "The ability to use multiple frames is associated with greater effectiveness for managers and leaders." The need to use multiple frames points out the tension between context and reflection that a school leader continually must negotiate.
The political frame is often referred to as the jungle model of organizations (Bolman and Deal 1984, 2003; Fullan 2001; Spring 1988). Weeding through the competing mandates of Head Start, state-funded preschool, c ildcare, and the school district, the principal often resembled a safari guide using a machete to detangle the vines within the policy jungle. The principal was responsible for helping the stakeholders, especially the teachers, put the newly created documents, mandates, and language into real practice. the principal often met separately with smaller program groups to reach a consensus before bringing everyone together to arrive at a larger group agreement concerning real classroom practice and meaningful early learning standards. The principal as politician had to understand each group's concerns and connect these concerns to the larger goals and common good of the group and process (Bolman and Deal 2003). As politician, the principal had to be meticulous in note taking and paraphrasing each group's concerns when conveying them to the larger group. The principal as politician needed to be honest and ethical when representing each constituency's concerns. This honesty cultivated the integrity of the process nd enabled the group to negotiate a compromise that satisfied all of the stakeholders' concerns. By enacting a moral political process for compromise, the leader also reenergized the participants, enabling them to finish creating early learning standards and aligning assessment measures to those standards (Sergiovanni 1994).

As the group's work neared completion, the principal had to reframe the process once again using the symbolic frame. The principal became the celebrant and inspired the group to take ownership of its work and finish the project (Bolman and Deal 2003). Rather than be the one in the limelight, the principal inspired multiple members of the group to take their work to the public arena (Fullan 2001; Green 2001; Sergiovanni 1994). This inspiration was created by the principal doing a lot of behind-the-scenes labor--typing documents, scheduling events, and coaching stakeholders--so that the stakeholders could ta e their work effortlessly to the public arena. The principal coordinated a series of meetings at which the stakeholders made the actual presentations and, therefore, reaped the rewards.
Through these presentations and celebrations, a community-wide consensus and vision were achieved. These actions established a common language for use by the learning community as they continued to develop positive classroom practices for their youngest learners. Will and capacity were created by ensuring that all stakeholders were involved, that necessary linkages were established between and across programs, and that time and honest communications were honored and valued. The early childhood principal used artistry and choice to frame and reframe her administrative style to continually meet the needs of the group (Bolman and Deal 2003). This artistry and choice in leadership provided the tools necessary to create a shared vision, a learning community, and sustainability.

The next example of reframing in action details the journey a middle school principal took with her staff members to create the will and capacity for systemic change. This middle school principal recognized the internal transitions involved in the change process, addressed those issues, and facilitated a climate in which the will and capacity to improve student learning was valued and supported.
Whenever a change in school leadership occurs--especially when a new principal is hired--all members of the school community--teachers, bus drivers, students, parents, and community members--experience angst. What will the relationships be like? What is going to change? Whose perspectives, needs, and situations will be recognized and valued? How will needs be negotiated? The social architecture and political reality of the organization must be addressed before any change can occur (Bolman and Deal 2003). These issues are even more pronounced and produce even greater controversy wh n the district leadership states that the principal has been hired as a change agent. Delivery of this message is a clear indication that the new leader has the power, authority, and expectation for change. Any hope of the status quo diminishes, and jockeying for positions of power and influence begin as the members of the organization move into a political frame of mind.
The leader and her staff members began their change journey with a brief, but formal, introductory meeting before the end of the school year and before the leader assumed the principalship. Using the human resources frame, the leader asked staff members to generate a list of descriptors that would characterize their expectations for leadership. Words such as consistent, fair, respectful, diplomatic, honest, compromising, good listener, sense of humor, backbone, structured/firm, and durable were indicators of what they were seeking in a new leader. Asking for input communicated to staff members that the new principal respected them s people, was a listener, and placed value on developing a relationship.
Fortunately, the superintendent shared the new principal's beliefs in the importance of providing time for people to develop a common understanding of their organizational framework and come together as a team. Both believed in providing professional development time during the summer months. The superintendent authorized funding to support an off-site, two-day retreat for the new principal and her staff members. This retreat addressed the human needs of the group and provided the opportunity to establish relationships crucial to the success of a working team.
The leader understood that for this group to function effectively, the processes used would be as important as the tasks (Bolman and Deal 2003). From the start, the leader strived to exhibit the leadership descriptors that staff members had prescribed in their first encounter. She started with a simple grounding activity. Every member used a metaphor to describe t eir past and what they hoped would happen in the future. This activity provided every participant with a "temperature check" on where they were with respect to one another and the leader. Through the frame of human resources (Bolman and Deal 2003, 174), the leader provided group members with an opportunity "to send implicit signals about the roles they preferred." This exercise was invaluable in terms of getting a sense of the group, the group dynamics, individuals within the group, and the role of various individuals within the group--all significant process issues.
Leaders lead by listening to what their followers believe, want, and know (Danielson 2002). Demonstrating respect for the traditions, practices, and policies of the past provide the leader with the opportunity to hear what is believed, what is wanted, and what is known (Bridges 1991). A tool for ascertaining this information is a group activity called Best Hopes/Worst Fears. Embedded within the Best Hopes statements are the beliefs and alues of the participants. Within the Worst Fears statements are the psychological needs of the individuals with respect to the ability to develop will and the capacity for change. Using this activity, the leader learned the issues that needed to be addressed, the traditions that were valued, and the practices and policies that would be grieved. As Bridges (1991), Deal and Peterson (1999), and Fullan (2001) cautioned, people must be given time to grieve for what is lost--what once was the practice--to be receptive to change. By giving them time to voice their concerns, the leader demonstrated respect and modeled care for each individual's ideas and issues. Using the human resources frame, the leader recognized the interrelationship between human needs and the organization, with human needs given a priority over the needs of the organization (Bolman and Deal 2003). The air became filled with the hopes of the participants, and the energy level transformed with an overwhelming sense of positive expectation for what was possible. Next, the leader channeled this energy into opportunities for faculty growth.
Reframing her style into a structural approach, the leader guided staff members to develop strategies that would turn their hopes into realities. To do this, the leader assigned staff members to small groups. Within the small groups, participants used brainstorming techniques to generate responses to the question: What needs to happen for the Best Hopes to be realized? Participants were reminded that within the brainstorming process, no idea was too silly or impossible to achieve. This freedom within a structure provided staff members the opportunity to delve into and envision change as a tangible reality. Their concepts of what a middle school should look like were sought and heard. All ideas were recorded. Ideas from the smaller groups were taken tack to the whole group and shared orally.
Using a structured decision-making process with an end product in mind, the leader facilitated the categori ation of the brainstorming results. Seven categories emerged: student programs, administrivia, social network, expectations/accountability, school spirit/PR/physical plant, discipline, and staff issues. These eventually became the foundation for the middle school's new goals.
Knowing that people are more committed to working in areas in which they feel comfortable, the participants were asked to choose a category of particular interest to them (Sergiovanni 1994). Each group was given the task of examining each item in the category and indicating what was already working and what needed to work better. Their responses were recorded on chart paper to provide a concrete visual representation of the importance of the task. The discussions gave members the opportunity to tell stories confirming either the need for change or for honoring what was already in place, while clearly expressing a vision for the future (Green 2001).
Cognizant of the need to empower the group and allow all participants to have a voice in their future, the leader facilitated a gallery walk. Armed with different colored markers, they walked around the room and read each category chart. Participants were asked to add individual perspectives on what was already working and/or needed to work better. At the conclusion of the gallery walk, the chart papers colorfully displayed all staff members' perspectives.
Effective strategies for supporting change warn that trying to change everything at once a sure path to failure. A wise leader must channel the efforts of the organization into one or two specific goals (Evans 1996). To do this, the leader then moved into the political frame to provide participants with an opportunity to rank the categories and identify two goals that would become the primary focus for change within the organization during the next two years. Discipline emerged as the top priority, with staff issues second.
Through the process of creating goal statements for the top two priorities, the group re ched consensus and rephrased discipline into a positive code of expectations. This communicated to the entire learning community that the new direction for discipline would focus on the positive. While seemingly a small change, this was a significant symbol for the group because it publicized a fundamental philosophical change and celebrated a common vision for the future (Bolman and Deal 2003).
Working in small groups, participants brainstormed what they would see, hear, and feel if a positive code of expectations were implemented and working well at the middle school. Results were brought back to the large group, one category at a time. Items brought forth reflected the changes the participants sought and the successes they anticipated. The large group then was divided into three subgroups and given the task of collapsing a category (see, hear, or feel) into goals for a positive code of expectations. Goals were presented to the entire group for reaction and review. The leader continually reframed rom a symbolic to a political perspective and back again, thereby providing participants opportunities to negotiate the future terrain, while maintaining an environment that kept everyone involved and openly communicating (Bolman and Deal 2003).
By continually reframing her leadership to fit the task and the needs of the group, the principal built the will and capacity for change within her staff members so that they, together, created five meaningful goals for their middle school. If change was to become a reality, however, the vision of the end product had to be clear to all involved. The barriers of confusion, uncertainty, and loss of meaning and purpose had to be removed. The leader needed to develop essential strategies to overcome the barriers. Using Wiggins and McTighe's (1998) backward-design method, the leader had the group reflect on the question: How will we know when we get there? Using the structural frame, the leader returned the participants to small groups to generate at least two in icators of success for each goal. Embedded within these indicators of success were the strategies to create the necessary actions. As the final step in this phase, participants took the indicators and developed implementation plans that included the time, people, and resources necessary for successful implementation (Firestone 1989). The leader integrated and employed the leadership images Bolman and Deal (2003, 16) delineated for each of the frames: addressing the social architecture of the structural frame, giving empowerment indicative of the human resources frame, demonstrating advocacy within the political frame, and providing inspiration in the symbolic frame.
When the retreat came to an end, staff members realized that they had participated in a new beginning; they had begun the transition between the old and the new reality (bridges 1991). They were energized and hopeful. In preparation for the weeks and months ahead, implementation committees were organized. Moving into a structural frame, he leader allocated the summer's remaining professional development funds to two additional meeting days for each committee to continue their work. Each committee was charged with creating the nuts and bolts of implementing its goal, as well as deciding how to communicate its progress to the whole group during the school's institute days.

At the beginning of a new school year, former routines can easily take over, so the leader had to be sure to sustain the momentum and keep staff members moving forward. She changed from the structural frame to the symbolic frame and began the year by communicating the progress made during the summer and celebrating the group's successes (Bolman and Deal 2003). Throughout the next several months and years, celebrations were held and rituals created that were woven into the tapestry of the middle school's learning community. Creating a positive code of expectations was the most visible ch nge and also the one with the greatest impact on students, parents, and staff members. Members of that committee became the emissaries, experts, and cheerleaders for fellow staff members as everyone learned and implemented a problem-solving approach to dealing with student behavior.
The principal was the primary communicator with the external constituencies, such as school board members, parents, central office personnel, and other district principals. She shared the vision and goals for the learning community via weekly newsletters to parents and executive summaries to the school board. Faculty members communicated the vision to students and parents. As the school year and subsequent years progressed, committees continued to meet regularly sharing their progress and presenting proposals for additional steps to the whole group for processing and consensus. These discussions were healthy interchanges that provided an arena in which faculty members aired conflicts and ironed out differences and glitch s that often led to a realignment of coalitions (Fullan 2001). The shared vision of a learning community created during the summer retreat remained the binding force that guided staff members as the school evolved into a middle school where students, teachers, support staff members, parents, and the principal believed in one another and in a common commitment to the creation of a positive learning environment for middle school students.
Will and capacity for change were created and sustained by a leader who understood the change process and used creativity and variety to continually frame and reframe her leadership style to meet the ever-evolving needs of the group. Her leadership gave stakeholders the inspiration, motivation, and support to embark upon the journey to create a positive middle school learning community.

In both of these scenarios, reframing provided each school leader with the opportunity to develop an appropriate diagnosis ith positive strategies to move forward. Though one might assume that reframing is a linear process, these two portrayals suggest that the process is driven by a symbiotic tension between context and reflection by the school leader. Being a change agent demands reframing and reflection. Using reframing pedagogy provides a bridge between theory and practice that is more substantial than mere contingency theory. Additional research should focus on the successful implementation of reframing theory as school leaders tackle the change process in the current environment of accountability. The authors hope that future and practicing administrators can learn from these experiences. "Providing examples gives school leaders the opportunity to review and reflect upon the skills to use in each frame, and the wisdom to match frames to situations," said Bolman and Deal (2003, 18). With practice, time, skill proficiency, and developing wisdom, school leaders can be instrumental change agents for the betterment of schools. br/>ADDED MATERIAL
Marla Susman Israel is Assistant Professor at Loyola University Chicago. She was a public school Administrator and Principal for a suburban Chicago school district that operated Head Start and State Pre-K. She teaches courses in School Administration, School Human Resources, and School Improvement. Her research interests include school reform leadership, human resources, and ethics in education.
Beverly Bell Kasper is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Co-Graduate Program Director at Loyola University Chicago. She was a middle school teacher, Principal, and Dean. She teaches courses in School Supervision, Administration of Special Education and Pupil Services, and the School Administrative Practicum. her research interests include school reform leadership, teacher supervision, and all-school pupil behavior intervention systems.

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